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1935 – Birth and Death in the Newton Family

By Glen Edward Newton

In 1935, the United States was still in the middle of an economic depression. President Roosevelt’s New Deal had provided some jobs, but the country was still in a slump. Hitler was on the rise in Germany, and Stalin ruled the U.S.S.R. with an iron fist. The prohibition amendment had been repealed a couple of years earlier, and although the big city thugs who got their wealth and power through peddling bootleg liquor were on the decline, bootleggers still flourished in rural areas.

For the Newtons of Big Rapids, Michigan, however, there were more immediate concerns. Dorothy was in the ninth month of her pregnancy, and she and Roy were hoping and praying for a healthy baby. Infant mortality was higher in that era than today, and Roy’s oldest brother, Ira Samuel, had been stillborn. Furthermore, Roy and Dorothy had suffered their own heartbreak with infant mortality. Their first child, Roy Junior, had been stillborn nearly two years before, a perfect little boy, but with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.

Adding to their concern, this winter was a particularly bad cold and flu season in Big Rapids. Immunization against influenza was yet to be developed, and Roy seemed to have picked up a mild case.

But this time, everything went right. Around 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 19th, Dorothy went into labor, and by 11:30 the contractions were three minutes apart. Her water broke at 11:50 and Roy drove her to the Community Hospital. They arrived at the hospital at 12:10, and Dr. Yeo had already arrived, with nurses Sue DeVries and Miss Ann Iben ready to help with the delivery. At 1:15 in the morning, Dorothy gave birth to James Covington Newton, a perfectly healthy boy with dark hair and eyes, weighing 6 lbs., 14-3/4 oz.

Before Roy left the hospital, he made note of things to bring Dorothy the next day—a razor, knitting directions, and lotion. He considered calling Jimmy’s grandparents to give them the good news, but they didn’t have a telephone in the house, and a person-toperson long distance telephone call to Red Springs, North Carolina, would have cost $3.00 for the first three minutes. Instead, he sent telegrams – 43 cents for a telegram to Dorothy’s parents in Lansing, 60 cents for one to Roy’s parents in North Carolina, 78 cents to Dorothy’s sister Mickey and her husband Vic Moore in Somerset, Kentucky.

Red Springs, NC, Sunday, January 20, 1935

James Covington Newton
Luther’s guess about the origin of the baby’s name was partially correct. He was named “Covington” after his great-grandmother Susan’s family. “James” honored several people, primarily Jim Moore, Roy’s Asbury College friend (unrelated to Victor Moore, another college friend who married Dorothy’s sister Mickey), and Roy’s Uncle Jim, Luther’s brother.

In Red Springs, North Carolina, Roy’s parents read his telegram on Sunday morning. They were delighted with the good news and pleased with the name Roy and Dorothy had chosen. Luther reminded his wife Elizabeth ('Lizzie') that his mother, Susan, was a Covington, and he wondered if the baby was named after his mother’s brother, James Covington.

Normally, Luther would have gone to the Methodist church on Main Street to stoke the fires and keep the building warm for the Sunday services and social activities, as he had done for more than 20 years, but not today. He was feeling ill and needed to rest. His wife Lizzie stayed by his side.

Luther and Lizzie wanted to send congratulations, but not only were long distance telephone calls expensive, Dorothy and Roy would be at the hospital and unavailable by telephone. Telegrams were uncommon in the Newton family, but they planned to send a telegram of congratulations to Roy and Dorothy the next day.

The West Building, Ferris Institute, Big Rapids, MI, Monday, January 21, 1935

Roy taught at Ferris Institute, hired by Woodbridge N. Ferris himself. On Monday, January 21st, Roy was teaching his 8:45 psychology class when he was called to the door of his classroom to sign for a telegram. He assumed it was congratulations for the new baby.

He thanked the Western Union boy and opened the telegram from Charles Zedaker, Sr., his parents’ next-door neighbor:

ROY NEWTON. BIG RAPIDS MICH. YOUR FATHER DIED THIS MORNING FOUR OCLOCK. C E ZEDAKER 846A

He couldn’t believe it. He had received a card from his mother that morning, saying that Daddy wasn’t feeling well, but that he was still working. Luther was only 60 years old, and he had endured similar bouts of ill health in the past. Roy thought it was another “spell” that he would soon overcome. But now he read the telegram over and over, then dismissed his class and sent a return telegram:

AM LEAVING AT ONCE BY AUTOMOBILE FOR RED SPRINGS DOROTHY AND BABY WELL

Dorothy and baby Jimmy were still in the hospital, so they didn’t need Roy to look after them. He wrote himself a note on the telegram to make sure he didn’t overlook anything as he prepared for the trip:

1. Keep fire going
2. Stop milk
3. Tire + sparkplugs
4. Pack

It was a familiar route for Roy. He had driven to the Carolinas to visit his parents and other relatives every summer since moving to Michigan—the first of the Carolina Newtons to move this far north.

But he never got to Red Springs.

Red Springs, NC, January 21-23, 1935

That Monday in Red Springs, family members began arriving to help prepare for the funeral, which was to be held Wednesday morning. Luther and Lizzie’s oldest son, Perry, came from Dillon, South Carolina, taking time off work to coordinate the funeral plans. The 45-mile trip from Dillon to Red Springs took nearly two hours – and that was only if you didn’t have to stop to change a tire along the way. In the 1920’s Perry had owned a Model T, but he gave it up during the Great Depression, so getting to Red Springs in 1935 meant borrowing a car or asking someone for a ride. Perry’s wife, Geneva McDaniel Newton, “Aunt Mac,” stayed in Dillon to take care of seven-year-old Perry Jr., six-year-old Donald, and baby Charles Ellis, who was just a year and a half old.

Lizzie’s brother, Perry “Buddy” Blackshear, her sister Caroline (“Carrie”), Carrie’s husband Oscar Bridges, and their 21-year-old son Bradley (a medical student at Emory University) arrived from Atlanta, Georgia, around 4:30 on Tuesday.

Charlie and Frances Zedaker arrived from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, around 7:30 Tuesday evening. They had begun their trip on Monday and spent Monday night in Washington with Uncle Jim, Luther’s younger brother. Uncle Jim joined them for the remainder of the trip, which was a hard one because of the rain and fog.

On Wednesday morning, friends and relatives congregated inside the Newton home, a one-story frame house on the edge of a hill. 13 wreaths graced the front room. By 10:00 a.m., when the funeral began, there was a large crowd.

Mr. B. D. Critcher, the minister of the Methodist church in which Luther had been so active, conducted the funeral and burial. He was assisted by Mr. Sam Hudson, Baptist minister.

Celia described her father in her February 6 letter to Roy:

Daddy wore his dark blue suit, a white shirt and blue tie. Uncle Dan had the suit cleaned and pressed and it looked real nice. … The suit which Daddy was buried in was Charlie’s wedding suit. He gave it to Daddy several years ago.

The preacher praised Luther’s faith in God, his devotion to his family, and his long service to the church and community. The congregation prayed for Luther’s soul and sang his favorite hymns from the Methodist hymnal.

In addition to Jim, Luther’s other brothers and sisters were present: Daniel Covington, Ira Lloyd, Mary Daniel, Daisy Beatrice, Ethel McLean, and Celia Evelyn. Other relatives were there, too, but Luther’s second surviving son, Roy, was absent.

Fort Wayne, IN, Monday, January 21, 1935

After driving over four hours in his 5-year-old Dodge with 52,000 miles on it, Roy reached Fort Wayne, Indiana, some 225 miles south of Big Rapids. But that was as far as he got before reluctantly stopping for the evening and changing his plans. He sent a telegram to Dorothy at the Community Hospital:

Western Union Telegram: FTWAYNE IND JAN 21 1935. MRS ROY NEWTON. COMMUNITION HOSPITAL BIG RAPIDS MICH. DECIDED NOT TO CONTINUE to REDSPRINGS BUT WILL RETURN TO BIG RAPIDS TOORROW WIll eXPLAIN WHEN I SEE YO UDO NOT EXPECT ME BEFORE EVENING AS I SHALL DRivE SLOWLY IF WEATHER IS BAD AM FEELING FINE AND WILL DRIVE CAREFULLY I HAVE WIRED MICKEY AND MOTHER ALSO. ROY NEWTON 833A

Telling Dorothy he was feeling fine must have kept her from worrying, but in reality Roy was not feeling fine. Roy explained in a letter that he wrote two weeks later to his younger sister Celia,

I should never have started for I was sick then, but I did so much want to be with mother. You know the rest of the story; I got to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and had to come back. The weather was terrible, the roads icy, and the car was acting up something awful. With good luck, I couldn’t have made it earlier than Thursday afternoon or evening. It is about 1100 miles the way I started to go. I feel terrible about not being able to go to my own father’s funeral, …

Although it was too late to order flowers for the funeral, Roy made arrangements to have his sisters order flowers a few days later so that their mother would have fresh flowers after the funeral bouquets wilted.

Luther Newton’s Death

Later in the week, Roy received letters from both Celia and Perry telling more about their father’s final days. Celia was there at the time, and Perry was summarizing information from his mother and Celia.

From Celia:

From Perry:

Daddy was not at all well last week. He went on with his work as usual. Mother finally persuaded him to see Doctor Hodgin last Thursday and Doc said he was extremely bilious and told him to take a good dose of calomel and stay in bed a day, but Daddy just wouldn’t give up. He took a part of the dose, tho’, and went on to work the next day. Dad had been feeling bad all last week but worked every day until Saturday a.m.
Saturday morning, tho’, he was suffering a great deal with nausea and wasn’t able to go to the store, so I went and opened up [using Luther’s key] and Uncle Jim came soon to help. After dinner [the noon meal] he seemed to feel a little better and wanted to go to the store. He wanted to walk but I doubt if he could have held out to go half way. I took Uncle Jim’s dinner and sent Bill [Ira Lloy’ds son, H. C. Newton] in the car for Daddy. He could hardly get into the car, and had to sit down nearly all the afternoon. He insisted on staying until closing time. [Store hours in Red Springs were informal, but normally Luther kept the store open until around 10:00 or when nobody was left in the store.] He stayed home Saturday a.m., went to store after dinner [the noon meal] and worked some. Closed store before 10 o’clock night.
Sunday morning he felt no better and decided to stay in bed. However, before dinner he sat up a while and read the paper. He had a good appetite, but was afraid to eat anything solid, so Mother fixed him milk toast. He had a sore spot just under his heart and as the afternoon wore on it got worse. We put hot applications on it but nothing seemed to do much good. Sometime in the early afternoon he said he wanted the doctor so Mother got him. He took Daddy’s blood pressure and it was 150, the first time in years and years it has been normal. Doc said his pulse was strong and still seemed to think the trouble was biliousness [what we would now call nausea and vomiting] and told us to give him calomel at bedtime. He left aspirin to deaden the pain and said continue the strychnine 3 times a day. You know, Daddy has been taking it for years. Felt worse Sunday. Had Doctor Hodgin after dinner. Dr. tested heart, pulse, blood pressure,  etc. and said all O.K. Dad had slight swelling about side or stomach which was the spleen but swelling wasn’t large enough to be noticeable. Dad had some pain there so Dr. gave him something and left.
Daddy still got no relief and at ten o’clock we called the Doctor again. He gave him a hypodermic and he soon went to sleep. Doc left a capsule and said give it to him immediately the pain started again. Both times when the Doctor started to leave Daddy had me get the money and pay him. Dad kept getting worse so at 10 o’clock Sunday nite he was back. Gave Dad another exam but found nothing wrong except pain in side but gave hypodermic. Dad got easy and said he could sleep but Dr. stayed till 11 or after.
About three o’clock a.m., the effect of the hypodermic wore off and we gave him the capsule, but he was fighting for breath and asked for the doctor again. As soon as Hodgin came in he said he would like to have another Doctor. While mother was gone to phone he gave him another hypodermic, but he was dead before it took effect. [Lizzie left the house to go to the only telephone in the neighborhood and phone Dr. Johnson. The phone was in a house three or four houses down the street, owned by a man who was a night watchman. He had a German Shepard watchdog that he kept outside in the yard while he was working, so she had to get past the dog to knock on the door; the man’s wife let her use the phone. As she passed by the Zedakers’ house next door, Lizzie knocked on the window and told them “Mr. Newton is dying.” Mrs. Zedaker came over.] About 3 or 3:30 Mother heard Dad gagging so went in to find him sitting on bed gasping for breath. He said [he] felt like he was smothering. Mother gave him water and a capsule Dr. had left. He got worse so got Dr. back again in few minutes. Found Dad dying. Dr. H called for Dr. Johnson but Dad was dead before he arrived.
The angina set up after the Doctor’s second visit. Daddy was conscious up until the last two or three minutes. Understand Dr. Hodgin said he died of Angina Pectoris [a heart attack], but I don’t believe he knew the trouble. Anyway, whether he did or didn’t, I’m satisfied he did best he could, etc. Jimmie Watson came for me 7 o’clock Monday a.m. That was first I knew of death.

Luther Newton was born June 17, 1874, in Newtonville, Marlboro County, South Carolina. As a young adult he added the middle name “Samuel” because of his admiration for the stories of Samuel in the Bible. Luther Samuel Newton died January 21, 1935, in Red Springs, Robeson County, North Carolina. He was buried January 23, 1935, in Alloway Cemetery in Red Springs next to his father and mother, Ira L. Potter Newton and Susan Eleanor Covington Newton, and his nephew, “Little Dan” Newton. “Little Dan” Newton Daniel Brown Newton was the son of Ira Lloyd Newton, one of Luther’s younger brothers. On February 22, 1930, when he was two months shy of his 13th birthday, he was riding a mule down the road in Hope County and was killed when a car struck the mule.

Perry returned to Dillon the morning after the funeral. Frances stayed with their mother another six weeks, but Charlie and Jim drove back; Charlie got home around 5:00 Friday afternoon.

Young Celia, the only child remaining at home, was stunned by her father’s death. She wrote to Roy:

Although I saw him take his last breath, I couldn’t believe it. The whole week has been like a terrible dream and every minute I think I will wake up and find everything as it used to be. Even yet I listen to hear him coming home – I could always tell his step. It hurts one because I can’t cry. Oh, Roy, something inside just aches and yet the tears just won’t come. I can’t understand it. I have cried over so many trivial things, but this great sorrow fails to bring the tears.

Roy’s reply to Celia included these comforting thoughts, which he surely would have wanted to express at his father’s funeral:

If there is any consolation to be found in a tragedy like this, in our case it must be found in our knowledge that we had a good father, a man who really lived a good life, loved his fellow man, and walked uprightly in the sight of God and man. When I see the poor kinds of sorry parents some people have, I am so thankful that we had a Daddy like ours, and a Mother like ours. No one who knew him at all could speak a bad thing about him, for he was a good man. That pride is our consolation now. If any man ever did, he “fought the good fight.”

Roy wrote a longer paragraph to Perry:

I can’t realize that Dad is really dead. When we were there in August I would have predicted many, many more years for him, for he seemed so much better off than before. There are a few things in which we can find some measure of consolation. I am glad he had his store at the time; he was always so happy in his work, and the failure of his business before [another grocery store] was a greater blow to him than we can ever know. I think he went the way he wanted to go – quickly, with a minimum of pain and lingering. He would have hated a long invalidism with its inevitable inactivity and rolling up of a burden of more debt. He never wanted to be sick or be a burden on anyone. The tragedy of his relatively early death, then, has a little compensation in the fact that he went in the manner that he did. And we can justly be proud of the way he lived. He was truly a good man, as everyone who knew him would testify.

Reactions to Luther’s Death

There was also some consolation in the knowledge that Luther knew of Jimmy’s birth before he died. Roy wrote to Celia on February 3:

I am so glad Daddy knew about our baby, and that he was pleased with the name. I thought he would be. You know, at first I thought I’d wait and write you all about the baby, but something seemed to urge me to wire. Now I’m so glad I did it. If I had written, the letter wouldn’t have reached you before Tuesday morning.

Roy’s February 3 letter to Celia also talked about friends’ reactions:

Miss Bessie Covington
The funeral flowers included a wreath of red carnations sent by Miss Bessie Covington, Roy’s third cousin on Luther’s mother’s side. Miss Bessie was a teacher at Red Springs High School and the Sunday school teacher for the teenage boys. Her love for the children, good humor, and sage advice made her very popular with all her students. She died later in 1935.

…everyone has been so nice to us. Three or four people told me about not being able to attend their parents’ funerals. People are so kind at a time like this. So many messages of sympathy have come. One of the nicest was from Miss Bessie [Covington]. The loss of her father recently made her understand perfectly how we all must have felt. She is such a good woman, and has done so much to help me in many ways she doesn’t know about.

Perry expressed feelings of guilt in his May 19 letter to Roy:

I can’t seem to get Dad off my mind. Not a day passes but what I think of him and it’s pitiful to me. To think he slaved his life away for all of us and died a pauper.

And I could have been with him on Sunday but not realizing the seriousness of his sickness I failed to go. Of course my going wouldn’t have caused him to live, but I just feel as if I failed him in an hour of need.

Moving temporarily to Dillon made Lizzie’s grief more intense. As she wrote to Roy on March 27,

I can’t bear the thought of leaving Dad there. Nothing will ever be the same any more.

Western Union Telegram: REDSPRINGS NCAR 130P JAN 22 1935 PROF ROY NEWTON. BIG RAPIDS MICH. MOTHER DOING WELL TRUST YOU ARE BETTER. P B NEWTON 201P

In this case, “doing well” meant that she was handling her emotions well after Luther’s death, but she had, in fact, been somewhat ill for several weeks. Celia had been making a special effort to spare her mother from overexertion, especially lifting and moving heavy things. And everyone was on the lookout for picking up serious illnesses. Lots of schools in the area were closed because of the flu. Even Frances, visiting from Pennsylvania, wasn’t in the best of health.

Although their mother was holding up well after her husband’s unexpected death, her future was a big concern for the rest of the family. Living in Michigan, Roy had to leave the physical details to his brother Perry and sister Celia. But he offered advice and what money he could spare—in reality more than he could spare—toward her support.

Social Security
Congress passed Social Security legislation in August, 1935, but only the primary worker was to be covered, and even then selfemployed workers, such as Luther Samuel Newton, who owned and ran the grocery store, were not covered. Not until 1939 was the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) modified to include the nonworking spouse. All of this was too late to help Elizabeth Ellis “Lizzie” Blackshear Newton, who was now widowed at age 55 and dependent on her children for support.

The subject of financial support was an important one for all of the siblings, for there was no government program to help widows or the elderly. There was no life insurance to help, either. Perry’s January 25 letter to Roy says,

Don’t think Dad had any insurance. Can’t find policies.Found some numbers and have written companies about them.

Perry was right. To survive recent economic hardships, Luther had needed to cash in one policy and let the other lapse.

Union Central Life Insurance Company replied to Perry,

The above numbered policy was surrendered to the Company for cash on July 18, 1927.

New York Life Insurance Company replied that the policy on Luther S. Newton,

…was allowed to lapse for the non-payment of the premium due September 8, 1930, charged with a loan of $510. The policy was then carried in force under the temporary insurance feature from September 8, 1930 to June 10, 1931, after which date it ceased to have any value.

At least there was almost enough cash for the burial expense. Mac Watson, the undertaker, took what there was and called it square.

The sale of the stock at the store went to pay back rent to Mr. Grantham, their landlord.

Other debts would have to be paid later.

At 17-1/2, Celia had completed 11th grade, which was as far as the Red Springs High School went, but she did not have a job and thus was not in a position to help support herself and her mother. As she said in her January 25 letter to Roy,

I wish I could get a job somewhere. It would help so much, and then we could take a couple of rooms wherever the work might be. I am so inexperienced. There aren’t so many positions I could fill. I don’t know where to apply nor how to go about it.

Aunt Mac tried to find a job for Celia in Dillon, but without success. In Perry’s words,

Mc tried here for her but no luck as business is off and will be for 3 or 4 months.

Frances’ husband, Charles Zedaker, had a good job, but Frances had no independent income, spending her time knitting, cooking, sewing, and helping neighbors. Charlie and Frances did contribute some. That left the rest of the financial responsibility to Perry and Roy.

However, Roy was about $450 in debt, most of which was overdue, with a new baby and a monthly salary of $132.50. To put this into modern dollars, that $450 in 1935 had the same buying power as $6,100 in 2004, and Roy’s salary would be about equivalent to an annual salary of $21,600 in 2004. Teacher’s salaries at Ferris Institute were reduced when the Great Depression caused a decline in enrollment, and a raise in pay was unlikely.

Furthermore, at times during the Great Depression, the college couldn’t meet its payroll, issuing scrip (essentially I.O.U.s) to the faculty. (It was not until after Roy retired that he was paid for his back wages, after the state of Michigan assumed ownership of the college.)

Perry had lost nearly a week’s pay the week of the funeral and didn’t have enough emergency cash to pay his own “running expenses”. (In his February 3 letter to Perry, Roy offered to help him make up for the lost pay, since it would be “only a small part of what the trip to N.C. would have cost me had I been able to continue.”) Furthermore, he was earning only $15.50 per week—not enough for his family to live on. Yet he pledged to send his mother $5 each month.

On top of all this, Lizzie needed dental work. Her remaining teeth were bad “and poisoning her whole system,” according to Celia. On February 11, Perry wrote Roy that “Frances will stay until Mother gets teeth out which will be about March 1st.” Uncle Buddy—Lizzie’s younger brother and the president of the Atlanta Dental Supply company—had made the arrangements and paid for the extraction and false teeth. Furthermore, Frances planned to see that her mother’s tonsils were removed, because they’d given her so much trouble during the winter.

The Saturday after the funeral, Uncle Ira took inventory at the grocery store, and they already had an offer from a Mr. Stevens to buy the store.

On February 13, Roy wrote to his mother about the financial situation.

Dorothy and I have been working on our budget lately trying to see how much we can send you & Celia each month. Will know more about it before pay day, Friday of next week. On that day and on each fourth Friday thereafter we plan to send a definite amount to you. I have already asked Dr. Brown for a raise to takeimmediate effect, but he wasn’t so enthusiastic about it; maybe I can convince him yet. I have been racking the brain for other means of increasing my income; maybe I’ll have an inspiration yet.

Although neither Dr. Brown nor Ferris Institute could give Roy a raise, they both sent wreaths to Roy’s mother in Red Springs.

Roy elaborated on his financial situation on February 17:

It costs us $100 a month to live. … In addition my insurance, premiums payable quarterly, costs me approximately $22 the 25th of every fourth month. The $100 a month mentioned does NOT include any allowances for clothes, tobacco, or anything of that sort. And, obviously, nothing for savings. The $100 for actual running expenses (which I would itemize if it were not such a long process) plus $20 to Red Springs leaves $17.50 monthly for clothes, insurance, extra doctor bills, medicine, things for the baby, paying up old debts, etc. We welcome suggestions as to how to rearrange this budget so as to be able to send more home each month. There’s nothing I would like so much as to send a large check southward monthly, but at present it seems impossible….. I forgot to mention that upkeep of the car, replacements, gas, oil, etc., have to come out of that $17.50. Also furniture insurance and automobile insurance.

My suggestions that the school raise my salary immediately by $25 or $30 a month seem to have fallen on deaf or unheeding ears. It wouldn’t be just right to raise mine and nobody else’s, and the school can’t afford a general salary raise just now. I do, however, anticipate a small raise next fall. Possibly as early as summer school. I have a few other irons in the fire, but they don’t seem to be getting very hot. The magazines seem to have entered into a conspiracy to reject my articles; all I get is rejection slips.

On February 27, Roy explained further in a letter to Perry,

You say you do not see how I can send Mother $20 a month. Well, to be perfectly frank, neither can I, but I shall do it just the same until such arrangements are made that will not necessitate that much being sent. It means no clothes for us, and means staying in debt much longer. I am looking forward to one or more of these things happening, however:

1. A raise in my own salary

2. Dorothy’s teaching in summer school

3. Bare possibility of her teaching part time next fall

4. Extra money from writing

5. Extra money from some yet unforeseen source

These are for the most part just possibilities, not probabilities. But they offer a little hope for the future anyway.

As if this wasn’t enough, Roy was suffering from a swollen appendix. In her letter of March 26, his mother says,

Better have the appendix out as soon as you can as ruptured ones are very bad indeed. For I went thru seven weeks of that with Frances.

He finally had his appendix removed the second week in August.

Perry wrote, “Mother wouldn’t claim her $300 exemption. Said she wanted Mr. G. to have his.” Mr. G. would probably be Mr. Grantham, who owned the house she lived in. What is that exemption? Roy wrote, “You said that Mother wouldn’t claim her $300 exemption. Does the state give the widow the first $300 – ahead of all creditors? I didn’t know about such a law.” One possibility is that they were behind on the rent, and that besides the landlord there were other creditors, for goods at the store, perhaps, or lines of credit that they had at stores.

Finding a Place to Live

Staying in the house in Red Springs was not a good long-term option. It belonged to Mr. Grantham, and without the income from the store, they could not continue to rent it. Perry estimated his mother’s expenses at $60 per month, of which $15 was the house rent and water and lights would be about $4. As Celia wrote to Roy,

It’s a fact that Mother and I have no use for all this house even if we could afford the rent.

Unfortunately, moving meant giving up the piano. Both Lizzie and her two daughters played the piano well.

Lizzie grew up in Georgia, and Celia thought it would be best if she could return there, where she still had friends and relatives.

After Luther’s death, Perry thought it best for Lizzie and Celia to live with his family, at

least for a while, to save money. On February 27, Roy wrote to Perry,

I doubt that your total living cost would be increased by more than $20 a month in such a case. [Roy had already pledged to send $20 to his mother each month.] That would certainly relieve me of a great burden if it could be worked out that way. Then you could be on the lookout for a larger house if you were too cramped.

Lizzie wasn’t fond of that alternative, perhaps because every time she’d visited Perry’s family she’d come home ill. In her March 8 letter to Roy, she said,

I would rather not live with Perry and family. I know too well the conditions and environment down there. But maybe we can hold our head up and some day when Celia finds something to do maybe we can yet live to ourselves.

Pending dental work complicated the plans somewhat. As Roy wrote to Perry,

I will write Mother soon urging her to move at once. Think she wanted to stay in R.S. longer on account of work on her teeth & tonsils. But couldn’t she come back for that? The teeth are all out now, and it will be some time before she will be ready for false teeth or tonsil removal.

Dr. McRae had told her that three months after getting the last teeth out she could get new ones.

In March, carpenters built an extra room and back porch onto Perry’s house at 105 E. Norton St. in Dillon; it increased his rent by $2.50/month. They moved there March 11th , making the move in one trip, renting John McGugan’s truck and drivers for $8 and leaving any unwanted furniture with Lucy Smith. It didn’t all fit in the house, so some things went into the garage, where they were damaged by a rain storm the day after the move. It was an unpleasant beginning to an unhappy time. Lizzie and Celia stayed with Perry’s family a few months, but it was hot and crowded, and Lizzie was sad and homesick.

The second week in May Lizzie and Celia took the train to Blakely, Georgia, to spend two months with Uncle Oscar and Aunt Carrie. The trip was especially successful for Celia, who wrote to Roy on July 9,

I never imagined that anybody could have as good a time anywhere as I am having here. Everybody is so nice to me that I am almost overwhelmed.

In August, Lizzie and Celia visited Buddy in Atlanta. It was a great way to get their minds off Luther’s death. The dates of the visit were flexible, and their return to Dillon came at an unexpected time. Perry wrote to Roy on August 12,

Mother and Celia came last Friday night and nobody met them. Uncle Perry was supposed to wire but if he did I failed to get it. The next door neighbor happened to be at the stations and brought them home. They spent about a week in Atlanta and have been telling marvelous tales of what they saw, etc.

Perry added a handwritten note,

Mother moving back to R.S. 1st Sept. Celia going to College. Getting money from Gov’t. They’re going up tomorrow to see about rooms.

Lizzie and Celia stayed with Miss Julia Covington four years while Celia, earned her teaching degree at Flora MacDonald College in Red Springs. A Federal EmergencyRelief Administration (F.E.R.A.) scholarship, which paid for everything except books, enabled her to attend college.

After Celia’s graduation, Lizzie once again lived with Perry’s family, helping with the cooking and sewing. During this time, Mac’s parents moved to Nichols, and their house at 500 Hudson Street became available. It was bigger than Perry’s house, so he moved his family there. Lizzie shared a room with Charles Ellis, the baby.

To the chagrin of Aunt Mac, Perry Jr. and the other children made no secret of their opinion that Grandma was the best cook in the world. She also sewed and repaired the family’s clothing, using a razor, needle, thread, and a treadle sewing machine. She had developed these skills in the millinery business her own mother had established after the death of Lizzie’s father.

After Celia married Carson Tolar in February, 1940, Lizzie moved in with them.

Jimmy

Roy brought Dorothy and James home to their small house at 118 Mill Street in Big Rapids on Tuesday afternoon, January 29th. Mother and baby were doing well. In his February 13 letter to his mother, Roy gave a progress report:

James is gaining weight right along and seems to be doing well in every way. When he was 3 weeks old he would follow with his eyes an object from extreme left to extreme right. Pretty soon he will be able to recognize us and smile at us. He smiles now, but I think it’s gas, not recognition.

Dorothy’s parents visited for a week around February 13th. It was the first time they’d seen the baby. They had recently given up evangelistic work, as Roy explained in his March 13th letter to his mother,

… on account of it being too hard on them, and Mr. C. has a good position in charge of the music in a big Nazarene Church in Lansing. He also gives piano, singing, and trombone lessons and tunes pianos, so I guess they’ll get along OK.  They have been having pretty hard sledding too during the depression.

The letter Roy sent his mother on Monday, February 18, commented on Jimmy:

Dorothy’s father and mother are here with us for a week. Dorothy is feeling pretty good, but doesn’t get enough sleep and rest. The baby is both breast and bottle fed,and that with the orange juice and haliver oil (started today) consume some 7 hrs. a day of her time. She feeds James at 2, 6, 9, and 12 in the morning, and 3, 6, and 10 in the evening. Each time first from the breast and then from the bottle. He is gaining weight steadily and seems to be in perfect health.

Epilogue

Lizzie outlived her husband by nearly 43 years, spending her final years at the Pines Nursing Home in Dillon. She died January 4, 1978, at age 97.

Roy and Dorothy lived the rest of their lives in Big Rapids. Roy died at age 70, July 27, 1974; Dorothy died July 10, 1981, at age 75. They were survived by not only Jimmy, but two other sons, David Lee, born June 12, 1937, and Glen Edward, born May 27, 1947, as well as the children and grandchildren of all three sons.

Jim left Big Rapids for California in 1954, a year after graduation from high school and lived in Costa Mesa, California, for a few years. There he met Orsola Blanche (“Zola”) Marney, who worked with him at Hughes Aircraft. They married and moved to Williams, Oregon, where their son James Michael was born April 19, 1964. James Covington Newton died February 10, 2003, at age 68.

Speaking at a Newton family reunion at Boykin Methodist Church, South Carolina, August 5, 1953, Roy said, "When I think of our family, I think most of all of my own father, who counted a good name rather to be chosen than great riches, whose integrity was as certain as time, whose morality was as eternal as the hills. He never compromised with principle. I remember him as a tireless citizen whose life was jeweled with unassuming devotion to his duty, his family and the common good."


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